The sod was officially turned Wednesday for the Canadian Mental Health Association’s long-anticipated rental housing project in North Battleford.
The project is to build a new eight unit rental housing structure for individuals with complex needs and mental health challenges.
It consists of two single level four-plexes at 1942 Kramer Pl. in North Battleford. The two buildings facing each other with a middle green space; also located on the property will be a support service and a transitional shelter area for the tenants there.
According to councillor Kent Lindgren, also a board member with CMHA - The Battlefords, the project was meant to fill a need for “appropriate and nurturing housing” for people with mental health challenges.
The federal government through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the government of Saskatchewan through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation contributed $830,000 to the project through the federal/provincial national housing strategy. The city of North Battleford donated the land for the building.
While local and provincial officials and several CHMA volunteers were there to break ground on the project, in fact work on the site is already under way. Lyle V. Schell Construction Management is doing the build.
Among those at the sod turning was Battlefords MLA Herb Cox, speaking on behalf of Paul Merriman, Minister of Social Services.
The homes would provide “security and stability for individuals with complex needs in our community,” said Cox. He said this project “aligns very well with the priorities outlined in our governments housing strategy poverty reduction strategy and mental health and addictions action plan.”
Councillor Len Taylor was in attendance representing Mayor Ryan Bater. He said that several years ago CMHA- Battlefords executive director Jane Zielke de Montbrun had spoken to him about this project., and had taken him to Prince Albert to see the project there.
“I was sold from that moment on,” said Taylor, who thanked CMHA for spearheading the project. ”I realized the value of a project like this for our community.”
Diana Duncan, president of CMHA Battlefords Branch, also credited Zielke de Montbrun for having “a vision and a dream and she never gave up.”
The dream was to provide “affordable independent housing to persons living with enduring mental illness and complex needs, and nurturing a sense of belonging where all of whom reside there felt safe and supported.”
Construction is to continue through this year and the hope from officials is that they will be back on the site in less than a year’s time, where they hope to officially open the rental units